The Real Price of Obesity?

I’ve just read an article outlining a new ‘fat tax’ which the Food Standards Agency are proposing to try to tackle Britain’s obesity problem.  If imposed, we could be forking (sorry!) out an extra 17.5% on top of products high in sugar and/or saturated fat.  Now, I’m all for reducing obesity and improving the health of the nation but shouldn’t we credit Britain with a bit of intelligence and educate people on making healthy choices rather than simply make things too expensive for people to buy.  The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ springs to mind.

Would an extra 18p on a packet of biscuits stop me buying them?  Probably not.  How about a pack of butter-would I spend an extra 24p so I can still bake cakes with my son?  You bet!  Now, I enjoy my food, I enjoy cooking good food and probably buy many of the things which would be subject to this so-called ‘fat tax’ but I’m a healthy weight and probably have a very healthy heart, thank you very much.  Why?  Because I have a balanced diet and know to eat these foods in moderation. 

So I’ve worked in the Fitness industry for nearly 10 years-it’s my job to advise on a healthy lifestyle but even as a child, way before I did any training or even took an interest in exercise I knew that crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks were bad for me.  Why?  Because that’s how my parents bought me up.  My brother and I weren’t allowed to eat rubbish all the time.  McDonalds was a rare treat and our lunchboxes weren’t made up of cakes, chocolate and processed junk.  This has nothing to do with cost, I must add.  Both my parents worked and we were very much an ‘average’ family in terms of income.  

It seems to me that convenience has taken priority over nutrition and we now have a new generation of parents coming though who aren’t educating their children on making the right food choices, because they’ve not been educated themselves.  People of my parent’s generation were raised on home-cooked food using fresh (and often cheap) ingredients made from scratch.  I appreciate that back then, Mothers were often home and arguably had more time to prepare fresh meals but many families now choose processed foods or ready meals which are a lot less effort but, actually more expensive and nutritionally inferior.

Many healthy, nutritionally balanced meals can be prepared and cooked in under half an hour.  If time is really short, rope older kids in to help.  The younger we get our kids involved with preparing meals, the better we’re preparing them for the future, teaching them valuable life skills.  Financially, meals prepared from scratch cost less than their pre-prepared counterparts.  Made from scratch, a beef stew for 4 people costs approx. £1.25 per person, packed with fresh veg and low in fat and sugar.  We need to get into the habit of batch cooking-cooking up a huge pot and freezing portions for when we really have no time to cook.

Now, if I knew the answer to Britain’s obesity epidemic I’d be a rich lady indeed but surely we all need to take a bit of responsibility to learn how to feed ourselves and our children well and make informed, educated choices.  It’s up to us, not governments or schools or food manufacturers.  We complain about the ‘nanny state’ yet are moving towards this blame culture where everything is somebody else’s problem (usually the government).  We seem to be unable to take responsibility for our own lives.  So lets get online and find some healthy, cheap recipes, invest in a good cookbook and help avoid this government interference by taking control of our own lives.

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